Books are seldom this timely. Covid-19 Conspiracies: QAnon, 5G, the New World Order, and Other Viral Media is a scholarly text that probes what appears to be a disastrous offshoot of the so-called Information Age. Even though there is plenty of excellent information available to us online, the most obnoxious clickbait seems to spread the fastest. There is so much manipulative junk online that it can be difficult to figure what information is reliable and what information is not.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has been a ripe period for conspiracy theories. I worry that those of us who are fortunate enough to have distance from these theories tend to look down on the believers. The authors write, “Conspiracy theories have the unfortunate side effect of isolating people, even those who want to be agents for change and to address the underlying problem. An experiment exposing people to made-up conspiracy theories showed an immediate suppressing effect on their sense of control and autonomy” (27). In my mind, this quotation is helpful in reminding me that people who fall into the trap set by certain conspiracies are likely struggling in some way. You can look down on them, or you could try to think about them with some level of compassion.
One helpful distinction that this text develops is the contrast between a conspiracy theory and a conspiracy. A conspiracy theory is a speculation about a small group of people having influence over a particular issue, system, or event. An actual conspiracy involves people actually enacting some kind of change or influence over a particular issue, system, or event. One hard truth about our world is that conspiracies do exist even if certain popular conspiracy theories miss the mark.
This book is incredibly timely in that we can see some of these conspiracies producing violent results. The recent Insurrection in Washington appears to have been inflamed by QAnon conspiracy theories discussed in Covid-19 Conspiracies.
My favourite aspect of this collection is that Bodner et al. do not look down on or mock conspiracy theorists. The final chapter, for example, is a wonderful model for how to interact with someone who believes in QAnon.
The style is accessible and the voices are all highly engaging. This is work by scholars but it is easy to read. Bodner’s writing, for example, has a nice blend of humour alongside his analysis.
About the authors: John Bodner is an associate professor of folklore in the social/cultural studies program at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University of Newfoundland. He has conducted fieldwork among tree planters, street kids and illegal marijuana growers to document the relationship between marginalized communities, work, identity, crime, and tradition.
Wendy Welch is the author or editor of six books and the executive director of the Graduate Medical Education Consortium of Southwest Virginia where she advocates for social justice and policy planning in equal measure. She lives in Wytheville, Virginia.
Ian Brodie is the associate professor of folklore at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, Canada. President-Elect of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research, he has served as President of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada.
- Publisher : McFarland Publishing (Nov. 9 2020)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 263 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1476684677
- ISBN-13 : 978-1476684673
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